One of the advantages of studying at an institute of national repute, is the opportunity to tap into the tangible commitment these have, to help you acquire social and professional competencies that mirror those required by future workplaces or higher education institutions. Language competencies and communication skills are a key part of leveraging your technical and academic prowess in ways that will serve you well. English is undisputedly the language most commonly used in technological and academic contexts in a liberalized world.
However, only about 10% of Indian citizens can read, write and speak English fluently. To learn a language in an organic way, we need to hear a lot of that language in our immediate environment. This is why we all speak our mother tongues correctly, without any effort at consciously ‘trying to learn’ it, and certainly without ever learning any grammar rules!
Many of you may have been to schools where English was taught only as one subject, like all the other subjects, and unfortunately, the focus there too may have been on studying several grammar rules, that does not, by itself, facilitate speaking the language confidently and correctly. Even in those schools where English is supposed to be the medium of instruction, the quality of such instruction is widely varied and the culture of students using and practicing English to get better at it, generally absent.
The English Language Support Services of IIT Palakkad aim to address, as best as possible, the several gaps in the English Language learning experience that many students come with. A casual survey undertaken at the Institute revealed that, of 57% of a chosen population who responded to the survey, 43% of the respondents only learnt English as one subject in school, and 51% come from homes that did not subscribe to an English language newspaper when they were in school. The majority, 70%, hear English only when it is used in class, and only 22% talk the language when with friends. Notably, 79% of the respondents self-reported a desire to improve their English language competencies.
The important thing is, the English Language Support Services of IIT Palakkad exist to cater to real and felt needs of the student community, and you are not alone if you feel this service could possibly help you/ or you can be of help in some way. What services constitute English Language Support?
Spoken English Practice Sessions
These online sessions offer an interface for beginner and intermediate level users of English to hear and speak the language at a pace they are comfortable with. The focus is on developing a vocabulary of the most commonly used words and phrases, understanding the meaning of words in context by forming sentences, and practicing conversation. Sessions typically last from 45 min to an hour, and are scheduled at the mutual convenience of the student and the English Language Consultant. It is desirable that sessions be scheduled regularly for at least the first three months. With learners at a similar level, group sessions are also facilitated.
Writing Sample Feedback
Students are invited to submit via email, an original piece of their writing of about 300-500 words, once a week, to receive constructive feedback and suggestions. The topic can be anything ranging from ‘News’ – i.e., happenings in your life or immediate surroundings that you would like to share, to more generic things like A train journey, A childhood memory, A favourite person or pet etc.
Writing samples are an opportunity to identify and address common mistakes. These are most commonly found to be in the use of articles, prepositions or tenses. Feedback sessions scheduled around the writing sample offer an opportunity to become aware of and address these issues. Future writing samples afford an opportunity to demonstrate the learning acquired.
Audio book referrals and guided listening
Listening being a very vital part of language learning, open source audio books and stories prove to be a valuable resource. Some students prefer the more subject-related content of Ted Talks or the English news on TV. At least 30 minutes of listening a day can prove beneficial to language learning and you can consult the English Language Consultant for customised recommendations and to plan how to verbally report on /paraphrase in writing, the content that you listen to.
Book Club Meetings
Language learning is a social activity. Book clubs offer an inviting social setting to practice reading, listening and speaking skills with the added benefit of a group of individuals who see value in that process. Currently, a book club is being facilitated for the Research Students (PhD and MS) once a week, with the concomitant benefits of being able to express as well as examine one's views on the content, develop vocabulary, improve reading speed, and enjoy social interaction with peers at the same time.
Copy-editing Research Articles, CVs and SOPs
Research Articles at the pre-final stage of submission to journals or conferences, CVs and Statements-of-purpose required as the part of applications for higher studies abroad or participation in various competitions, may be submitted for proofreading and editing. As a general rule, please avoid last minute submissions and allow at least a week as turn-around time, though response is always attempted as soon as possible. Be aware that the English Language Consultant also juggles other commitments related to the Institute’s publications and brochures, event-related written materials, and website content and cannot always prioritise requests received at short-notice.
Certifying English Language Proficiency as per non-standardised Rubrics / Test Matrices acceptable to foreign universities
Almost all foreign universities require that prospective scholars or interns demonstrate their English Language Proficiency. While standardised tests like TOEFL or IELTS are the norm, some do allow for such competence to be tested and attested in other objective ways as well. Should you require such a service, as per a template/guidelines specified by the receiving university, you may approach the English Language Consultant.
Anchoring the English Language Buddy (EL-Buddy) Program
This program will match students who desire to improve their English language competencies with a “Buddy” student volunteer, who has been screened and selected for their suitability to fill this role. The EL-Buddy offers English language input in the form of friendly conversation or exchange on academic and general matters for an hour a day and helps fellow students get a practical one-on-one English language interface.
The plan is to create a roster of EL-Buddies by selecting those students who meet certain criteria to sign up for the Buddy Program. Desirous students will then be matched with “EL-Buddies” who are studying in preferably the same program. You are invited to reach out to the English Language Consultant with an email if you ‘Need an El-Buddy’/ ‘Want to be an El-Buddy’.
For EL-Buddy’s this represents • An opportunity for in-house training and ongoing handholding on how to offer language learning assistance • Written acknowledgment of your volunteer work subject to terms and conditions: Value adding to the CV! • The chance to make a positive change / be an influencer by stepping outside your comfort zone and making new friends who may be very different from yourself.
All queries may be directed to:
Sandhya Chandrasekharan (Ms.), firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 9.00am – 5.00pm,
Room#203, Academic Building,